Copa del Rey: Messi's Injury Gives Valverde 'Selection Headache' Against Madrid
Medics attend to Messi against Valencia

Ernesto Valverde is faced with a selection problem ahead of Barcelona face off against Real Madrid in Copa del Rey First leg semi-final match on Wednesday.

The Catalian boss is likely to be without Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele who have been out for some couple of weeks.

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Their injuries have come at arguably the most inopportune moment of the season for Valverde and his side.

The absence of both Messi and Dembele will not only affect the line-up but also the formation and style of play that Los Cules will have to adopt.

If they do not return to full fitness in time, it is very likely that Valverde will play a 4-4-2 system, with a view to making the centre of the midfield stronger and more compact by adding an extra player.

Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic are almost certain to start the match and the other names in contention for a place in the starting line-up are Arthur, Arturo Vidal, Philippe Coutinho and Carles Alena.

The two Brazilians are considered the more likely of the two to get the nod, should Messi and Dembele fail to pass a late fitness test ahead of the match.

Another player who could feature in the absence of Messi and Dembele is recent signing Kevin-Prince Boateng.

He would be able to play alongside Luis Suarez in a 4-4-2 formation. Barcelona’s new addition was not expected to play in a game of such magnitude, however, the current circumstances at the club may render him necessary.

Despite losing two of his key players, Valverde is certainly not short of attacking options. Another option could be playing Malcolm, although at this stage it seems unlikely. He has not featured much under Valverde and it was rumoured that he could have been moving on in January, but there were no takers for him.

The young Brazilian played against Valencia and failed to impress his coach, having little impact on the game and going unnoticed in yet another match. It looks as if Valverde’s patience with him has finally worn thin